I'm sitting here, faced with the daunting reality of writing my mother's eulogy. She's not quite dead yet, but I figure once the big event happens I'll be out of time.
I was secretly hoping my sister Robin would do this -- she's always more eloquent than I am. But, I think it's good it's me. I can handle this -- and it makes sense for my role in the family I suppose. I am the head drama queen.
So I'll test drive it here.
I had gotten to the unfortunate point of resenting my mother most of the time. She presented me with one more thing to do in my overscheduled life. She was demanding -- wanting attention on her schedule not mine. She refused to take care of herself -- take responsiblity for anything, including my existence on this earth and I was tired of it. I determined a year or so ago that this relationship would continue on my terms not hers -- as much as possible anyway.
I was most often convinced that she would make her self ill just to get attention -- to make sure we'd all come running -- and for the most part, her ploy worked.
My brother, Don, and I must have seemed rather callus when we checked her into the hospital the last time. We made sure she was safe and cared for, but left quickly.
"Ok, Mom, we'll see you later," I said.
"Did you guys have any questions?" the nurse asked as we left.
No -- we replied and we both rolled our eyes.
"You guys have gone through this before I take it," the nurse said.
Oh yeah -- once too often I guess. It was the last time I spoke to her -- that last time I saw her smile -- upright -- alive, really.
It occured to me when I got news of the stroke that I'd spent two hours alone in the car with my mother and we'd barely spoken ten words. I was tired, preocuppied -- and really, I had nothing to say. I had already told her pretty much everything I wanted to -- and anything else had fallen on her selectively deaf ears. Two hours in a car wasn't going to change or repair anything.
She was who she was. She did the best should could with what she had. She loved me -- loved all of us to the extent of her ability. That will always have to be enough.
My mother was not the kind of person -- in my lifetime anyway -- who lived in the "now" -- the grass was always greener some where else. Her vocabulary was peppered with ifs and shoulds haves. Just when you'd hand her everything she always said she wanted on a silver platter, she'd want something else -- Don and I spent thousands of weekends looking at new houses or cars -- things that would be ours "when" and" if".
Every so often though, she'd show up in reality -- and it is those times she seemed truly happy --She'd always told us she wanted to take a long vacation -- but my step father -- well he was just not that kind of guy. She kept saying when and if and then finally said -- we're going -- now.
Hiro stayed home, but she packed Don-Don and I up in that little silver Izuzu and we headed out.
We went to Vern and JoAnn Johnsons ranch in Mackay. It was -- and continues to be -- one of my most favorite places on the planet. Don and I had heard about the Johnsons -- but we'd never met them -- they were the stuff of Metzler family legend -- but I didn't know why until I was there.
Vern Johnson was probably the first cowboy I remember laying eyes on -- he was authentic -- I barley remember him -- his wind weathered skin dark under his cowboy hat -- Joan was beautiful and practical -- she always seemed to have bright lipstick on -- their dining room was covered with pictures of the whole family on horseback and stacked floor to ceiling with rodeo trophies and ribbons -- We stayed in the basement in a room that smelled of dust and old leather and it was wonderful.
My mother was relaxed -- for one of the first times I could remember -- we dined on milk fresh from the cow and mushrooms Joan had picked and that day and fried in butter. To this day, that meal goes down as one of best meals I have ever had. The Johnsons, much to my continued surprise put Don and I on horseback and sent us out into the sagebrush -- They gave Don the nice horse -- but -- they just sent us out -- us two city kids who were rather lucky to know which end to feed -- and Mom just smiled and waved as we wandered away -- she knew we'd be ok - if nothing else, she figured, the horses would take care of us.
My mother, as I hear tell, knew horses. I had always heard that she was the kind of woman who could tame a wild stallion. She always told us about growing up on the back of a horse -- riding around the family farm in Steam Boat Springs, Colorado --
to be continued